, Fri, 07 Aug 2009 04:26:16 PDT
DETROIT - The 2007 Porsche Cayman that sat in our driveway for one week and was rained on several times. That left it splotchy and the tires were muddy because we got the car right at the start of the spring thaw. But neither water marks on its red paint job or mud on the tires could dull the shine of our Porsche Cayman.
At $56,395, we thought it a bargain.
Although the Cayman shares its platform with Porsche's roadster, the Boxster, the Cayman has more in common with the fabled Porsche 911 Carerra. Although the Cayman is smaller, it was often mistaken for a 911. You've got to really know your Porsches to tell them apart.
While the 911 is rear engine, the Cayman is mid- engine. Its compact, 2.7- liter horizontally opposed six- cylinder power- plant sat just in front of the rear axle and that placed it right behind the passenger compartment. The set up created an unbelievable balance.
It also created a visceral feel when we put the Cayman through its gears. The engine, at times felt like it was inside the car with us - in a good way. The cabin was spacious and comfortable and there was plenty of headroom because of the arched roof. The Cayman's interior was beige which helped make the interior feel larger than it was. We had occasion to have a passenger in the car several times during our test drive and there was plenty of room for two full- size adults.
The engine made 245 horsepower and 201 pounds- feet of torque. There is a Cayman S with 295 horsepower but we don't see how it could have been any better in terms of fun and road mastery than our test vehicle.
However, our car was equipped with a five- speed manual transmission. A five- speed automatic gearbox and a six- speed manual are available. We would have preferred the six- speed gearbox. On more than one occasion we found ourselves reaching for the gearshift in preparation of shifting from fifth to sixth gear. The Cayman is a six- speeder by nature.
But even with five- speeds our test car had plenty of oomph. It weighed a relatively light 2,800 lbs. At that weight and with that much power, our Cayman was very quick. It wasn't warp speed fast but it was fast enough to out run just about everything we came across during our test drive.
And our Cayman was highly maneuverable. Acceleration was almost instant. Cornering was cool. Braking was like a decelerating speed boat that comes to a halt almost immediately after the power is cut. And we loved powering the Cayman through curves.
But what struck us most about the Cayman was its suspension. After one week of driving, we should haven been beaten and bruised. We're talking streets here that had just gone through a rugged winter. They were filled with potholes, ruts and washboard surfaces.
Except for expressways, and the main one we use was closed for repair, it was the rare occasion that our Cayman rolled over smooth surfaces for any real length of time. Through it all, our test car handled the bumps; the quick turns to avoid the really big potholes, cluttered streets and ill- tempered drivers because of detours very well.
A sports car is made for open roads but the Cayman seemed well suited to the everyday traffic on surface streets that went on here. As long as the pavement is dry, we think a Cayman is an outstanding piece of machinery.
But when it can run, the Cayman gets from 0- 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. It has a top speed of 160 mph and get this: it had an EPA rating of 32 mpg on the highway. Now that is impressive.
Our only complaints were that our test vehicle did not have automatic dimming mirrors. At that price we think that should be standard equipment. And there was no auxiliary jack for our iPod, at least not one that we could find. Other than that, we found Porsche's Cayman practically perfect.